Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Value of a Comfortable Office

As I sat at my desk sweating in the dead of winter, I got to thinking about how people's comfortable working temperature must be cultural. Offices are hot in Japan. In the summer, their CoolBiz campaign has businesses setting the thermostats to 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit). I just checked, it is winter and the thermostat in my office is reading 30 degrees (86 degrees Fahrenheit). In contrast, offices in the U.S. have traditionally been regulated to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

I know my productivity suffers when I'm uncomfortable. It suffers doubly when I can only type with one hand because I'm fanning myself with the other. But is this just because of differences in cultural sensitivity to heat?

Out of curiosity, I did a quick search and found this interesting opinion piece written by Professor Shin-ichi Tanabe of Waseda University. Some of the interesting points in his opinion piece are:

  • A guidebook recently published by the Federation of European Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) reports that 21.8°C is the optimal room temperature to foster intellectual productivity.

    21.8°C is a little over 71 degrees Fahrenheit...almost exactly what offices in the U.S. set their temperatures too. Perhaps we have a hint why U.S. and European workers are the most productive in the world?

  • ...28°C seems a little too high for a room temperature setting in summer. The most comfortable temperature when sleeping naked is 29°C. People burn more calories in the workplace than at home where they are more relaxed, and however casually they may dress, they are still not naked in the workplace.

    While there are studies showing some variance in comfortable working temperatures depending on culture and gender, it would seem that 28°C can't be comfortable for anyone.

  • Raising the cooling temperature of a standard building in Tokyo from 25°C to 28°C could increase energy efficiency by 15%, which is equivalent to saving ¥72 per square meter of office space during the COOLBIZ campaign. On the other hand, the resulting decrease in working efficiency could cause a loss of 13,000 yen per square meter of office space.

    What kind of company loses 13,000 yen to save 72 yen? A Japanese company, apparently.

A number of captive portal implementations, including products from Cisco and Nomadix, use as a virtual IP address, HTTP requests to which are redirected to the access control server's logout page. A quick google search turns up numerous network service providers, mostly wireless ISPs, that use to access their logout pages.

This trick has worked because the IP address resided in an IP block that was reserved by the IANA, so there could be no server that actually used that IP address.

However, this month the IANA assigned the IP block to the Asia-Pacific NIC. As its name implies, APNIC is responsible for the allocation of IP addresses in Asia and the Pacific, meaning that there may come a day when a company in China, Australia, or elsewhere is allocated a subnet containing the IP address.

In short, the IP address no longer resides in reserved IP space. Network access servers should stop using it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Public Option

Every time I have to take off my shoes at the airport, I'm grateful that Richard Reid stuck explosives in his shoes rather than his ass. Waiting in line while people take off their loafers and flip-flops is silly, but waiting in line while people get full cavity searches might make me think twice about flying.

Anyway, as everyone has surely heard by now, an idiot on a flight to Detroit lit his nuts on fire for Christmas. So now the TSA will be installing new full-body scanners to see if we have anything stuffed in our trousers. I haven't heard the details, but I suppose you are privy to a more intimate inspection if something in your pants draws attention.

And then today I received an e-mail from my friend Matt alerting me that, sure enough, suicide bombers are now stuffing explosives in their rectums. Unless these new airport scanners can see clear into my bowels and distinguish between a Taco Bell lunch and IED, I wonder how far off we are from getting free colon exams whenever we fly.

Actually, I think I may have stumbled upon health care reform that everyone can get behind. The TSA can be our delivery method for socialized health care. If the TSA is going to be probing every orifice looking for explosives anyway, with a modicum of medical training, they could alert us to any potential medical conditions we might not have been aware of while they are in there. Everybody wins: planes are safer, people are healthier, and we save money on colon exams, prostate checks, and gynecologist visits.

It might cost a little money to implement, but who would object? Only terrorists could be against making our skies safer.